With only two weeks left to go on the schedule, there doesn't seem to be too much to be decided, other than some late spots in the the money and the NHL playoff race, but that doesn't mean that it all isn't exciting.
The lead in one pool is pretty safe, while the second pool has room for a dramatic finish. The other money spots have been rather stagnant, but miracles can happen in the last couple weeks, not to say that they have in the past, it's just a theory I'm working on.
If your pool teams are already out of the running for the money, do check out the playoff pool and start your studying. As teams clinch their spots or get eliminated, the online selection sheet does get updated, but you can print off the whole sheet from the website and start working out your scenarios, brackets and who will make it deep into the playoffs. Those are the teams you want to focus a lot of the best players on.
Don't forget to tell your friends, there has been quite a bit of interest shown this year and I would like to say we'll be getting up to 70 teams this year, so there could be a lot of money to be had in June! It sounds awfully tempting, doesn't it?
It was a massive week for the goaltenders in Week Twenty-Five, as there were a number of them that finished with 8 points a piece, but that wasn't the best number of the week, as one goalie was better than the rest. Ryan Miller of the Sabres, becomes the first player this season to get two Player of the Week nods, after finishing Week Twenty-Five with 10 points.
After going 23 weeks without a player getting into double-digits in weekly point totals, we have now had back-to-back weeks with 10 or more points to get the nod. Where was this kind of production earlier on in the year?
It was a pretty incredible week for Miller, who went 3-0-0 with 2 shutouts for his 10 points and he's also keeping the Sabres in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race as well.
On Tuesday, Miller made 31 saves to blank the Canadiens, 2-0; Friday, he made 22 saves in a 4-2 win over the Panthers and on Saturday, it was another 30-save effort to shutout the Devils, 2-0. No extended shutout streaks in the week, but having a pair of goose eggs in three games is mighty impressive.
Miller's 10-point week now brings his annual total up to 78 points, which ranks him 13th in pool scoring, 8th among all goalies this year. With only a couple weeks left in the season, the Sabres will need Miller to be on top of his game, if they are going to make the playoffs, but a 5-point cushion in the standings might be enough for how well he's playing.
Week Twenty-Five is not going to let me get away with an easy bit of writing, as the Mover and Shaker nod has a three-way tie to break. 33 points was tops in the pool and three other teams had 30 or more points this week, so it was very competitive down the stretch. So, the first tie-break is always goals and with 11 goals in the week, Allan S. takes yet another Mover and Shaker nod.
This is Allan's first Mover and Shaker in a month and his 6th nod all season, it really is no wonder that he's running away with the lead in the pool. His team is also on a six-week streak of 30+ points, starting in Week Twenty. In the last ten weeks of the season, Allan's team has posted 313 points, while no other team has eclipsed 300 points in the same time frame.
With that being said, the lead is now 66 points and with only a couple of weeks to go, I think we can close the book on the winner already.
Anyways, back to the week at hand... Allan's team was led in Week Twenty-Five by Claude Giroux, Mike Ribeiro, Corey Crawford and Antti Niemi, who all had 4 points each. The only active zero on his team was the gamble that he had lost at the second waiver draft, Peter Forsberg. Everyone else on the team contributed at least a point and helped pad his stats going forward. A healthy team that just chips in has done the business this week, with no frills or gimmicks.
Thankfully, the jersey race is a little bit closer for the third segment, as John P. is trying to track down Allan for the win in that department, but there is a 20-point gap separating the two teams with only two weeks of action left to go. Allan leads with 243 points and John has 223 points, followed by Wes M. with 209. Allan is well on his way to having the best segment of the year, which currently belongs to Kristy and Don, at 256 points in the second segment, but that should be blown away this week.
As healthy as the top end of the week was, the bottom of the pool had a large number of teams that couldn't quite make it to 20 points. Fortunately, there are no ties to break for the Basement Dweller, as Wayne H. sits all alone at the bottom with only 12 points to his name.
With only 12 points, Wayne has now fallen out of the top 10 in the pool, dropping down to 12th place, now 15 points out of 10th spot, 2 points behind 11th and 10 points up on 13th. Another bad couple of weeks could drop Wayne even further by the end of it all.
David Krejci was Wayne's top player in the week with 4 points, but seven players failing to register a point was a real setback. Injuries have ravaged his team and may continue to do so, as Taylor Hall, Jordan Leopold, Andrew MacDonald and Kevin Poulin won't see any more action for the rest of the season and it will still be a few games until Sidney Crosby reappears for the Penguins. It's not very good news at all, really.
The sheet pool has gotten a little stale in the top four money positions over the last month, as there has been no movement since Scott G. moved into 4th place in Week Twenty-Two. Burc B. still leads, Wes M. continues to lose ground slowly, Mitch F. has a good hold on 3rd and Scott continues to cling to 4th place. Now, there is some interesting movement coming from down below, as Chris M. is storming up the standings, having moved into 6th spot this past week, coming from as far back as 19th place in Week Eighteen. Chris now sits only 9 points out of the money, only needing to jump Paul W. and Scott to do so, which is definitely possible. You see what happens when you make your trades!
Top week in the pool belongs to Peter H., who snagged 76 points in Week Twenty-Five, shifting his team up from 12th in the standings, all the way up to 10th. A top 10 finish would be quite good for Peter. Peter enjoyed good weeks from Ryan Miller (10 points), Tim Thomas (8), Vincent Lecavalier (5), Milan Lucic (5), Nicklas Lidstrom (4), Roberto Luongo (4), Nicklas Backstrom (4) and Claude Giroux (4). Peter's team has been on a good climb in the standings of late, moving up from 18th spot in Week Twenty to 10th spot right now, but he is still 33 points out of the money, which may be a bit of a stretch for only two weeks remaining in the schedule.
There was quite a bit of shifting around in the middle of the standings in Week Twenty-Five, as teams 6th through 27th all moved around a little bit. The biggest mover up the standings was Cheryl D., who snuck up three places, up to 12th spot. She'll be looking to finish up strong and make a top 10 finish before it's all said and done.
If you're looking for a last ditch trade that may fetch you a few extra points for the end, you may want to look to Box 14, the last defenseman box in the Western Conference. Alex Pietrangelo of the Blues has been on a bit of a tear, now leading the box with 41 points and still climbing. He is going the right way in being the top defenseman for the Blues in next year's sheet pool.
NEWS AND NOTES
The Bruins are trying to get everyone on board for their playoff run this Spring, even if that includes making players into healthy scratches that normally wouldn't be a scratch. For the second time in a couple weeks, Michael Ryder was a healthy scratch for the Bruins and that generally means he isn't buying into what the team is doing at the moment. Ryder is on the playoff pool sheet, but will have to make the line-up on a regular basis to be an effective selection.
Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson didn't play on Saturday afternoon against the Kings due to a knee injury. Wilson apparently suffered the injury on Thursday night and was deemed unfit to go on Saturday, but will still be listed as out day-to-day. A back injury, not a healthy scratch, was the reason Matt Hunwick wasn't in the line-up on Saturday, he's also considered to be day-to-day.
Well, I was going to prepare a large post for this bit of news, but since the update wasn't major, I kept it to the newsletter. Jimmy Howard had to leave Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs after Joffrey Lupul fell on his shoulder. Howard left and didn't return, but an MRI on Sunday showed no major damage, so he'll be on the shelf on a day-to-day basis, likely returning to the crease on Wednesday. A big sigh of relief comes out of Hockeytown, USA.
A pulled muscle in his back forced Tomas Vokoun to leave the game against the Penguins in the 3rd period, leaving the overtime period and shootout to back-up Scott Clemmensen on Sunday night. Vokoun experienced some back pain and couldn't continue, likely just some muscle problems, which will be re-evaluated before the team's next game. For now, we'll consider him day-to-day.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
I'm guessing that the CBC was really hoping that these two games going on the Week Twenty-Six edition of Hockey Night In Canada will mean something, but even going into this Saturday's action, there is a good chance that these games will mean absolutely nothing.
There is a pretty good chance when the Maple Leafs visit Ottawa to take on the Senators, their death number will already be down to zero, from the four it currently stands at. All that will take is a couple of wins by the Sabres and a couple of losses from the Leafs in the week and that will be that. The Senators are locked in a battle for the second-best lottery draw situation, looking for the number one pick overall and have been out of the conversation for some time already. If this game does happen to mean anything, I'll be genuinely surprised. Leading the way in scoring between these two teams is Phil Kessel, who currently ranks 60th in pool scoring with 57 points in 76 games, currently on pace for one of his better seasons in the league.
In the late game, the Canucks will play host to the Oilers in Vancouver, where the top of the conference takes on the bottom of the conference, in a game that likely means just a smidgen more to the Canucks than it does the Oilers. By Saturday night, the Canucks should clinch the Western Conference crown (which could happen as soon as Monday night) and there is a reasonable chance that the Canucks could clinch the President's Trophy with a win over the Oilers, if they hadn't done so in the week. For the Oilers, they have a 9-point cushion on last place in the entire league, setting themselves up for the best lottery chance and the number one overall pick again this year. Since we all know who the leading scorer is in the pool these days, I'll mention the leading defenseman in this game, Christian Ehrhoff, who currently has 48 points in 73 games, ranking 111th overall in pool scoring.